What Is Jet.com? And How to Use It

Ever felt disappointed after buying something online, only to find a cheaper option afterwards? A new e-commerce site aims to solve that problem, promising the cheapest prices on the Web.  Debuting last year before getting purchased by Walmart in August 2016, Jet.com is a shopping site that uses a mix of money-saving techniques in order to sway shoppers from places like Amazon and Best Buy.

What is Jet.com?

Jet.com offers significant discounts (up to 15 percent) over other e-commerce sites. At launch, shoppers needed to pay about $50 a year for membership, similar to the $55 yearly for a Costco Gold Star (basic) subscription, to access the special prices. Jet later dropped the membership fee, making the site free for all. The company says you'll save an average of $150 a year if you shop with it.

The site carries products in 16 major categories, including Health and Personal Care, Beauty, Household, Computers and Electronics, Furniture, Toys and Video Games and Office Supplies. It also started offering fresh groceries such as milk, fruit and meats to some customers living in select areas such as Manhattan and Hudson County, N.J., said Recode.

According to founder Marc Lore, prices on Jet will, on average, be 5 to 6 percent cheaper than elsewhere on the Web. That's because the company doesn't upcharge products. Jet gets a cut from retailers on every sale, and will use that to fund the initial discount its customers will see on all products. Jet said it aims to make money purely from membership fees, but hasn't explained how it intends to profit now that it's dropped these fees.

How will the Walmart buy affect Jet?

Walmart recently purchased Jet.com for a whopping $3 billion, but the company promised that the two brands will continue to operate independently. You'll probably see some improvements and changes to both Walmart.com and Jet.com as a result of the buy, but those who use Jet regularly can still look forward to the same wholesale-shopping experience. Both sides strive to provide lower prices than competitors, so you may see both Walmart and Jet get more aggressive when it comes to discounts.

How does it work?

Say you come across a tablet as you're browsing Jet.com, and place it in your cart. Then, you see a pair of headphones and add that to your cart. In the background, Jet.com will find retailers that have both those items, and you'll get $5 (an arbitrary amount for this example) off your total order. If you add another item to your bucket and Jet.com is able to find a store that has all three products, you could get more of a discount, because putting it all in one box saves the seller money.

Discounts are applied to items after they are placed in the cart. A Dell laptop that cost $309 on Amazon dropped to $269 after I added it to my cart thanks to a $41 savings applied. 

You'll supposedly save even more money if one of those retailers that has all your items is located near you, because that company could offer free shipping. But Jet also offers free delivery on orders of $35 or more, and most items should arrive within three to five business days.

As you look at your cart, you'll also get alerts to show you how to save more money, including waiving returns and using a low-fee payment method (such as a debit card instead of a credit card).

The company also offers an affiliate program called Jet Anywhere, which lets you receive Jet credit (or JetCash) when you shop with partner retailers. The Jet Anywhere page says there are more than 700 stores in the program. Buying something from those companies' websites (the rewards program is only available online) will give you 20 to 30 percent of your purchase to use on Jet.

How is Jet.com different from Amazon?

Jet is to Amazon what Costco is to Walmart. Both retailers offer low prices on everyday items (and more), but Jet promises bigger discounts for members who buy more than one item. Jet's grocery delivery service is also free to access for now, while Amazon charges $299 a year for its Prime Fresh program. Prime Fresh offers free delivery on orders above $50, while Jet.com only requires a minimum spend of $35 before giving you free delivery.

Amazon offers a yearly Prime program for $99 that provides free two-day shipping on eligible items and access to a large video library for free streaming. Jet doesn't appear to have a similar media streaming program.

Jet offers free delivery on orders $35 and up, and most products ship within three to five business days.